During the US Open Qualifying tournament, Ivan Lendl spent part of his day speaking with several of the top American junior coaches. Here are a few of the messages he delivered:
Players Must do Their Job; Bring Energy and Motivation Each Day
1) "I have never understood how a player cannot be motivated to train or compete. If I have to motivate the player then it takes time away from doing other things that are more important. The player has to bring his own motivation each day, that way the coach can do his job."
It's simple, the player's job is to bring his/her own energy and effort each day and the coach's job is to develop a training program and provide guidance. Simply showing up is not good enough. Are you bringing the right energy and effort to your practices each day? Are you self-motivated and hungry to improve?
Take Advantage of Your Opportunities, and Always Be Looking for Your Chances to Do More
2) "Growing up in Czechoslovakia I had 2 hours of court time. But I used to wait around the indoor facility and if a player was on vacation or didn't show up I would jump on the court. I was able to get several more hours of training because of this attitude."
It was clear that Lendl had a unique mindset from a young age and took advantage of the limited opportunities he had in the beginning. However, he was always searching for ways to do more, even if it meant spending all day waiting for an open court that may never come. Are you taking advantage of the opportunities you have? What are you doing to create new/more opportunities to improve?
Work on Bringing your Bottom End Up
3) "If a player has a weakness, he must keep hitting that shot until it's not a weakness anymore."
Lendl discussed how he knew his weaknesses and worked on them regularly to make them better. For example, he worked really hard on keeping his fitness up so that he wouldn't mind longer rallies or longer matches. Lendl's reputation on tour as one of the most fit players certainly helped play into the mental warfare he waged during the match (i.e., running down every ball, making points physical). What are the areas of your game that define you? What reputation do you have at your level of play?
Surround Yourself With Like-Minded Players/Coaches
4) "In a club there might be a group of players. If one of those players is not working hard or not doing what he needs to do to get better, then everyone suffers. It's better for the club to push that player somewhere else."
Growing up with motivated and hardworking training partners helped Lendl improve at a remarkable rate. When he had the chance to work with better players or pros, he talked about wanting to have a good practice for the other player. This is a very different approach than most players bring to the court today; for the most part, players practice only for themselves. Would other players choose to practice with you? If they would, what are the reasons? If they wouldn't what are the reasons?